Decorating your own house is a great way to keep project costs down but it can be hard to achieve a professional result when you DIY.

If you are planning on taking on the decorating yourself, follow these top tips to achieve a perfect finish.

1. Make Sure You Prepare the Walls

Prepare the walls by filling any holes and sanding the surface to get rid of any rough or uneven surface. Even new plaster should be lightly sanded before a mist coat is applied.

A sanding system like Mirka, which consists of a sanding block which you connect to a vacuum cleaner, and Velcro-backed Abranet sanding pads that allow the dust through, will really help to keep mess to a minimum.

2. Mask Everything Before Decorating

Nothing looks worse on a newly decorated wall than paint-covered sockets and switches. Unscrew them before painting and wrap them in freezer bags.

Top tip

Masking off skirting, joinery, etc, with masking tape is best avoided — it can be difficult to peel off and worse still, can bring paint off with it.

FrogTape is a dedicated tape which prevents paint from leaching, and in some instances, can be removed up to 21 days after being applied.

3. Seal New Plaster

It is very important when decorating your own house that you mist coat new plaster with a watered-down trade emulsion paint to seal it prior to applying a finish. It allows the paint to soak into the plaster rather than just sitting on the top, and forms a much better bond.

4. Caulk Correctly

Caulk is very useful if used correctly when decorating. It should be used to fill along skirting and architraves and around openings only.

Any holes in the middle of a wall or ceiling should be filled with a powder filler and sanded flat. Have a bowl of water and a small sponge handy and wipe and rinse as you go for a neat finish.

5. Invest in Quality Tools

Choose the right tools when decorating your own home

Decent quality brushes, such as the Farrow & Ball 1.5 inch paintbrush  and rollers will pay dividends with the finish you can achieve.

A quality brush will give a better finish than any roller but I accept that they are significantly faster at covering large areas and a much easier way of doing ceilings. Fixed-arm roller brackets, which have an ‘arm’ on each side, are much sturdier.

Top tip

Clean the sides of your roller regularly to prevent paint build up — it’s a good way to avoid tramlines. Also keep a damp cloth to hand when painting to prevent paint build up on your brush.

6. Work from the Top Down

When decorating your own house, paint ceilings first so you can deal with any splashes on the wall before you do the final coat. And use as big a brush as you can handle for cutting in walls and ceilings. You will get a better finish when you don’t have to keep stopping to reload with paint.

Decorating your own home - cut in from the top

If you are having a different colour on the walls, bring the ceiling colour down the walls a little and then cut in the wall colour very slightly short of the corner. This way, you will achieve a much crisper line.

If you are painting a large room a single colour, you could consider spray application of your chosen paint.

The amount of masking required to stop overspray means that the time saved by spraying is used up before and after the actual job is done. The exception is when painting roughcast render, where spraying is definitely the way to go.

Top tip

Kip Drop Cloth is a pre-masked drop cloth which provides a quick and clever means of covering joinery, flooring, etc, protecting the latter from paint spills and splatters.

It can even cover entire windows and pieces of furniture.

7. Prep Woodwork Before Painting

It’s all in the prep — time spent filling and sanding is time well-spent.

Modern water-based paints are very good and much easier to work with, but if you are set on satinwood or gloss, then two coats of undercoat followed by a coat of gloss or satin is the minimum for a top finish. I recommend using medium wire wool to flat the surface between coats.

8. Paint Doors in the Right Order

Doors should, ideally, be removed to paint but you should at least mask the hinges and remove the handles. There is a recognised sequence for painting a door. Start with the panels or glazing beads followed by, in order:

  • top half centre stile
  • top rail
  • top half side stiles
  • bottom half centre stile
  • centre rail
  • bottom rail
  • bottom half side stiles and edges last.

It sounds complicated but it makes perfect sense when you do it.

By following these eight steps when decorating your own house, you can not only help to keep costs down, but can ensure a longer-lasting, professional finish.

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